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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  April 15, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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>> that's it for another week of "the last word." you can follow my tweets. chris haze is sitting in tonight. >> have a great weekend. >> thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. rachel has the night off because, well, the news has been let's face it pretty crappy latedy. we begin with a little bit of good news, despite the fact today is april 15th, you do not have to file your federal income taxes today. april 15th is of course burned into our brains as tax day in america. this day procrastinators get a reprieve for the weekend. this is the day washington, d.c. observe emancipation days. eight and a half months before lincoln issued the emancipation pro clamation, he signed the act that immediately freed 3,000
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slaves in the district of columbia. that bill was signed on april 16th, 1862, since april 16th is a saturday, this year it's observed today, april 15th, tax day. so in case you're watching the show right now while trying to get your tax returns done, stop and relax and put it away. you have all weekend. but, even if taxes aren't due today, the date still manages to loom large in our national imagination, the day the making of the film at las shrug unveil their master piece and the ryan budget was passed by the united states house of representatives. every single democrat voting today voted no on that budget. and they were joined by four republicans who also oppose the ryan budget. the budget headline about the paul ryan budget is of course that it abolishes and kills and does away with medicare. no matter what republicans try to tell you over the next few months, they voted to abolish medicare today. what's less known about the ryan
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budget though is that it contains about $4 trillion worth of tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy and for corporations. now, the conception alter rain that ryan budget has come to occupy in the minds of the beltway represents thus far probably the greatest victory for a 2-year-old movement that essentially began, left we forget, two years ago today. remember two years ago today? the big inaugural tax day tea party held in cities and states across the country, legions flooded into the public square to demand an end to the taxation in the country. the symbolism of the tea party, the fact it had its first protest on tax day was no accident. in the imagination of the american right, taxes essentially represent the fundamental means by which the government restrains our freedom and explicit in the tea party
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movement is the notion that we are overtaxed. tea stands forout our current b situation. because there are two sides to the budget ledger. taxes and spending. but thanks to the tea party and an incredibly set of wealthy people who don't want to see taxes go up ever, the conversation we're having about the budget is almost exclusively a conversation about the spending side. >> washington does not have a revenue problem. washington has a spending problem. >> we don't have a revenue problem. we have a spending problem. >> washington does not have a revenue problem. its got a spending problem. >> not a tax problem, even the democrats in their own weird way have sort of conceded this point. earlier this week president obama unveiled his budget priorities and it was 3-1 in favor of spending cuts rather
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than new taxes. why 3-1? who knows? perhaps it's because in the words of the at the party we are taxed enough already. but are we taxed enough already? or is it possible that we are perhaps dare i say it undertaxed? is there such a thing? let's take a look. compared to other parts of the world, we are quite undertaxed actually. all of the countries that are scrolling up from the bottom of the screen are countries that have higher taxes than we do. united states ranked 20th in the world in terms of tax burden. compared to the rest of the world we have relatively low taxes. you will hear we're not social iflts like france and don't need high taxes. forget about the other countries then. how taxed were reare we right now compared to how taxed we've been in the past? the answer is trumly remarkable. when you look at almost every metric, we are at historic lows in terms of taxation in this country. what you're looking at are
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corporate taxes collect as a percentage of gdp. here's what we were in the 50s and watch what happens. corporate tax revenue has sunk like a rock over the last 60 years. it's near the lowest point ever. by now we've all heard of the poultry tax burden by a parent company that names with benlerral electric. well, what about the wealthy? the wealthy are getting crushed by taxes right now, right? you hear that from the tea party, stuff like this all the time. >> already the top 1% of income earners pay about 40% of all taxes into the federal government. so if you want to talk about fairness, the top 1% are paying 40% of all of the income. >> this is a very deft slight of hand. conservatives want you to focus
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on what percentages of all income taxes are paid by the wealthy. maybe your conservative co-worker sent you an e-mail offer your kid's baseball coach or right wing dad. everyone else is along for the ride. slight of hand is that's just income taxes. working class and poor people pay sales taxes and tons of state and local taxes and pay their fair share. wealthy on the other hand, look at what's happening to their marginal tax rate, does that pattern look familiar at all? what we've been seeing, the central fact of the american economy over the last several decades is an increase in inequality with more income going to the people at the top. at the same time the people at the top have seen the tax burden decrease. this week journalist johnson published a great article, called nine things the rich don't want you to know about taxes. in it, i learned every year the irs con ducts the study of the
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wealthiest tax filers. the average american pays about 22% of their income to federal taxes. the richest 400 americans, 16%, pay about 16% of their income to federal taxes. so, the wealthy need to pay more taxes, right? that's what president obama is now calling for in the democratic party, but president obama is also saying everyone else's taxes must not go up. and this is where it gets tricky because that may not necessarily be true. it's true that in the recession, raising taxes is almost certainly a bad idea. even the middle class right now is by historical perspective undertaxed. here's what average families paid in income taxes in 1955. watch what happens. again, near the lowest level in half a century. if we just allowed all of the bush tax cuts to expire, we would look at the budget far
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closer to being balanced. it was once said, taxes are what we pay for civilization as this budget battle continues and the center gets shifted from taxation, it's important we keep in mind as we have an aging population and more prosperous population, certain parts of government are just going to cost more. and that's not a bad thing. it's the benefit of prosperity and long age. yes, we need to control things like health care costs but we're also just going to have to all pay a little more to make sure that we have the social contract that we deserve. you almost certainly won't be hearing that from any elected official any time soon. but it's still the truth. joining us now is an elected official, anthony weinor of new york. >> i want to get back to this on a second but i want to start with the budget today. the democrats completely held the line. did that surprise you? was that --
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>> no to some degree we have this rare moment that people are lining up in a way that people can see the real differences. we went in this period over last year when we were considering the health care reform act where republicans were acting like they cared about medicare. it hid a fundamental truth, they have never been comfortable with the programs that create a safety net. they are finally acting purely like they are, they really don't like medicare and now they are showing it with the vote. democrats, one of the reason that people are democrats, they believe in programs like medicare. >> one of the dynamics we are seeing in the budget discussion, republicans want to cut cut cut spending and president saying we need to cut spending but -- when you talk about taxes, he says we need to raise taxes on wealthiest and boehner says nonstarter. there's an imbalance, right? do you feel that's true, like we
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have an out of balance conversation? >> everyone says we want everything on table except only one side is being honest. they have insisted that the tiny sliver of the budget means aid to education and people that are hungry are the only places to look for this. there's another element about how tax burden gets redistributed without really noticing. what the ryan plan does on things like medicare and medicare says we aren't going to pay for them but it's not like when you make the cuts the bill fairy pays for them. cities like mine and new york are going to have to pay higher tax burden, devoteless resources to things they usually devote to, which are schools. it shows they are reducing taxes but they are shifting it to the local level. something they always say they are opposed to. >> you end up in a situation where you can pay less in taxes and pay more for health care and
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it is still coming out of your pocket. >> the large number of bankruptcies among people who have health afflictionses and no insurance, they are by and large middle class and less well to do people. the very well to do don't have to worry about being bankrupted a a disease. they also don't have to resort to putting things at credit cards at 20% interest. there's all of the ways the middle class, even when you appear you're lower in rates actually have higher taxes. >> you and i are agreement about letting the bush tax cuts expire. what do you think about let's hope there's a recovery and robust job growth. do we have to return to clinton rates up and down the income sale, pay more in taxes and not just the people in the top? >> this is what we do have to do. we have to assume national responsibility for some problems and not just shift them to the cities and states so there's a competition, who's going to have the lowest rate so you have
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people in texas with crumby health care because they have a lower rate and less coverage and caps on what they can do. i think the important thing is we have to internal itz as a country, there are some things the federal government can do better. we can create large pools for example in providing health care for seniors, despite what paul ryan says, he ignores a basic element of the economy. when we join together as a big group, we get a better deal. ask the people at walmart. we understand that. i do believe that we have to start putting the burden where it belongs, right now we've been increasingly shifting the burden to states and cities so the tax cut has been nonexistent for most middle class people. >> you're a politician, it's your job to stay in touch with what your constituents ar feelinand neyo city is a gh tax place. do uhi that people feel overtaxed? or do they feel economically strained and the strain manifests itself as being strained? >> no one says boy, i wish i
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could pay more taxes and bit the way i want to stipulate, i want there to be no taxes if i can figure out a way to do it. the one thing people do complain about, the sense of ab jekt on fairness going on the last eight, nine years, the idea that incomes of middle class people have been flat. they keep hearing about how all of the big guilded period in american life has ended. for a lot of them they never experienced it because so much was going into health care and keep up the high co of college. i think the deal the american people would gladly accept is give us some fairness to the thing, even if it means i may have to pay a little bit more. i'll tell you one other thing, i hear from well to do people with a con shens, i don't benefit living in a country where the top 2% make as much as the bottom 40%. it's an unhealthy economy. they invest in companies to sell services to people who can't afford to buy them. >> it eats away at the
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legitimacy of the system, they are sending in the form and someone else is rigging the game in their favor, they hate it. >> perhaps the greatest trick, the moment about the tea party movement, is how so many middle class and less well to do people have been co-oped what is a basically a corporate interest wealthy person movement. they don't realize it what they are arguing for is that people who really have done well in the country should pay less of a burden and, the very same people wearing the pointy hats have been asked to do more. >> thank you very much. recently oklahoma passed legislation ban s sharia law because it was this close to taking hold in oklahoma. now rejecting a $54.6 million grant from the federal government that would improve health care because -- because it is apparently the stocking
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horse for federal tie ranny. one more cool thing about doing your taxes this year. not only do you have a extra couple days to get them done, but when you do, the government is offering you something that might or might not actually make you feel better about having paid taxes in the first place. a receipt. a receipt telling you what the government did with all of your tax money. this year once you paid your taxes you can go to a website set up by the white house and enter how much you paid in taxes or choose your income level and site will general rate a receipt telling how much went to national defense and education and so on. we have a link to the white house's tax receipt page at the maddow blog. [ male announcer ] i know what you're thinking -- leather trim mmand center, almost 300 horsepower, infinity surround sound, seating for seven. wait. this is a minivan?
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republicans revoegs can be held in washington, d.c. and seen and felt in republican controlled states. tonight's call your friends and
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say did you see what they did moment is brought to you by the state of oklahoma where the tea party tail is wagging in a big bad way. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. premier of the packed bag. you know when to hold 'em... and how to fold 'em. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go. go national. go like a pro. positive?
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today we get the republican approach, fresh out of oklahoma. where rookie governor fallon turned down $54 million from the federal government, to help the state set up a health insurance exchange where they are going to have do by law, with or without the $54 million. >> today we are announcing that we will not receive any money when and if they should try to send money to the state of oklahoma, the 54 million, the early grant. >> that was not for the record as far as we know a hostage video but it sure looked like one. i guess that's how you look when you're giving up $54 million. i mean, $54 million is 54 times what doctor evil wanted from austin powers. and it's more than 10% of oklahoma's entire budget shortfall. federal government awarded oklahoma a grant because oklahoma applied for it. and then she lobbied for it.
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between the applying and accepting, these guys, oklahoma tea partyiers made such a fuss of any government involvement, the republican lawmaker and the governor decide today would be better to let the money go, to say we don't want your stinking $54 million. politicians chose to protect their political hides and the residents of oklahoma who stood to benefit from getting health care, they get to make up the difference because federal law requires states to do somve federal money. grants for high speed rail. scott turned down $2 billion for a fast train route in his state. ohio governor casic said no to $4 million p acr'ni f turning down money at the same
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time saying your state is broke seems crazy. at least with the infrastructure project you could make an argument you would be caught with overruns and upkeep. oklahoma is a whole other deal and one with serious implications. the argument from the legs lur is that the federal law itself aobjectionable. bingman telling reporters, we're concerned about actually falling into the trap of adopting obama care, which is really what we're against. >> complying with federal law isn't a trap. it's the foundation of our federal system or at least the foundation of the federal system since grant and lee shook hands. to be clear, oklahoma wasn't legally compelled to take the money, but striking down the affordable care act, the state will be legally compelled to implement the dreaded obama care. the same legislators don't seem
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willing to do so. that is history as shown is something of a problematic stance. joining us now is oklahoma state senator and democratic minority leader, senator rice. thanks for being on the show. >> glad to be here. >> what is the cost of this stance to the people of oklahoma? what does it mean for your state? >> it's a big cost to the state because by rejecting the federal money, tax money we send to washington that's coming back to oklahoma, we are going to have to move money from general revenue that would go to public schools and go to child abuse prevention and move it over to do this exchange, what is complying with health care reform anyway but sort of using smoke and mirrors, trying to sound like we're going to do it our own way but not really. >> can you walk me through the politics. this was the same governor that had wanted the grant. someone really spooked her. how did that happen?
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how forceful are the forces that are pushing this? >> well, for a moment there i was hopeful. she had a moment tri sanity and realized when yore elected and the campaign is over you've got to govern from the middle. then the at the party and right wing and this monster we created -- the republicans have created. we have a new monster now. campaigned against this dreaded health care reform, all of a sudden wants to accept the money, they revolted it and she and everybody else in the republican majority did a flip-flop. >> it strike me from reading through the quotes of the members of the state legislature there. is it going to be enough? are they going to be satisfied? what pounds of flesh will they
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want to extract? >> the very right wing represented who authored the ballot to opt out of health care as if you could opt out of federal law says it doesn't matter that they are going to use state money that we don't have to do this exchange because it's complying with obama care, quote, unquote, anyway. they've really got themselves in a fix this they do want to govern responsibly. >> he said it doesn't matter, it's not good enough to him the money is being turned down and his objection is compliance with federal law? >> there's a believe here that oklahoma, whether the lawsuits that are making the way through the courts are successful or not that oklahoma should not comply with federal law which is unconstitutional. there's a strong political -- i mean, colleagues of mine in the state senate ran away because they were getting threatened by the tea party and they are going to be primaried by people
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farther to the right than they are for carrying this legislation. they are still going to do the change, just the oklahoma way. they'll have to abide by the statutes and federal law the health care reform stipulates. it's a lot of back and forth trying to have it both ways. my office being a minority leader, i get a lot of calls. we had a huge surge of calls from people from both parties who feel the governor and legislative leaders are trying to have it both ways and it's starting to back fire. >> democratic minority leader, andrew rice, thanks for your time. in wisconsin, the difference between a republican and a democrat winning the supreme court election was a 14,000 vote mistake. the news is that it appears there was no shadiness involved. the bad news is this was not the first time this particular election official had problems with math. that's next. [ male announcer ] this...is the network.
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what you want out of your vote counter is that your vote counter be va sid yus, if you were advertising for county clerk, which was what the position that overseas elections is called, you would use that favorite phrase of job postings everywhere, detail oriented. i'm not particularly detail oriented myself. my grammar is kind of bad.
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i have producers and an invention called spell check. i don't think i would have a very good vote counter. there's more and more evidence emerging that the people who does count votes is not very detailor yented either. you'll recall in the most bitterly fought supreme court race in recent memory, possibly ever, it looked as if the democrat had pulled off an i am probable victory. clopen burg was leading by the slimmest of margin margins. then the republican county clerk came forward to say that the votes of an entire city had been left out of her account by accident. more than 14,000 votes. all because cathy nicholas didn't remember to hit save on the personal computer she uses to keep voting records. that was her explanation for why the republican, david prosser was suddenly had by 7,000 votes. there's still no evidence that
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any of that was nef fair yus or due to fraud. it does seem there was significant incompetentance in play here. it is quite a legacy of cathy nicholas, a long list we reported on before and far too long to go into tonight. here's what's new. if you look on the county clerk website at the 2006 race for attorney general, the official returns show there were more votes than there were ballots cast. 17,000 more votes than ballots. keep in mind the republican, van holland, a man still attorney general of wisconsin, he won by fewer than 9,000 votes statewide which means a discrepancy of 17,000 votes would have been more than enough to spring the election to the democrat. that point was made by the democratic party chair of wisconsin in a letter he wrote this week asking the nonpartisan government accounting board to investigate the vote counting procedure. his request has been granted.
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that investigation will stretch back at least five years. this is kind of a big deal. have you ever had a job manning a cash register at the end of the night you have to resolve the numbers, the stuff on the receipt has to match the amount of money in the drawer to the penny. and it's sort of the same thing if you're running an election or at least it should be. the votes you post on your website should have to match the number of votes that you have counted. it isn't rocket science but it's me tick house work, the kind of job best done by people who are detail oriented.
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today, while most of the nation's political attention was focused on capitol hill and reality tv presidential candidacies and the like, president obama announced what appears to be a major policy change in libya, that looks at first like a pretty steep slide down the proverbial slippery slope. to understand how consequential the announcement is we have to go to the top of the slope when president obama had to choose between a variety of responses ranging from doing nothing to
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full scale big time boots on the ground military force. it was a range of options for responding to what was arguably a dire situation, a ruthless did takter clinging to power, and put down an armed rebel onhad landed forces on the doorstep of the largest rebel held population center. once inside he pledged to show no mercy. the president in a signature display choose the middle path, along with allies in europe, i am plimt plemting a no fly zone. president had no good words to share about moammar gadhafi. >> for more than four decades, the libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant, moammar gadhafi. he has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth and terrorized innocent people around the world. >> but and this is crucial, the
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president said the mission would be limited. >> i said that america's role would be limited and that we would not put ground troops into libya. that we would focus our unique capabilities on front end of the operation and we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. >> not only would the mission be limited but regime change would not be the goal. >> broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. >> a line in the sand was drawn by defense secretary robert gates. >> does this administration want to see the rebels prevail and overtake gadhafi? >> i think the president's policy is that it's time for gadhafi to go. that's not part of our military mission. >> secretary of state hillary clinton clearly agrees. the defense secretary continued to reiterate the limits of the operation again and again as often as he could. >> as welcome as that would be,
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it is not part of the military mission. >> the president and secretary of defense said getting rid of gadhafi wasn't part of the mission and so too the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen. >> the mission can be accomplished and gadhafi can remain in power? >> that's potentially one outcome. >> even with gadhafi still in power, that's where we were up to at the top of the slope. this morning the overwhelming feeling of slippage. obama and nicholas sarkozy and david cameron co-wrote an op-ed. as long as they are in power, nato must min taken operations so the pressure on the regime builds then a genuine transition to a process can really begin. led by a new generation of leaders. in order for that transition to succeed, gadhafi must go and go for good. so long as gadhafi is in power, nato must maintain its
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operations. perhaps sarkozy wrote the whole thing in french this means something different that was lost in translation. to me it sounds like theal lied mission in libya cannot end with gadhafi still in power. which is a terrifying prospect in light of what's happening right now. gadhafi brought out the best fist pumping skills, and military forces laid siege to a strategically important city in the north, misrata. the libyan military has been firing indiscriminately into civilian areas, even using cluster bombs. gadhafi does not plan on stepping down and the military remains loyal and strong and we won't leave until until he's gone. when does this end? joining us now is stephanie goss. thank you so much for joining us tonight. >> nice to be here, chris.
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>> i wonder, what is the reception in libya and what do you think it is intended to accomplish? who is this for? eptellalis m tt tow singularity of purpose than it is to actually try to threaten gadhafi. nato has had a tough go of it since they took over control of the operation two weeks ago. in first week there were two friendly fire incidents that include the destruction of a number of rebel tanks and the rebels don't have a lot of tanks. then you saw the situation in misrata that continued to deteriate ov recent ys to the point humanarn crisis. prompted both foreign ministers to say that nato needs to intensify its operation. they also complained they don't have enough ground attack planes to execute that. that was a call on all of the countries part of the nato alliance but it was a thinly
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veiled reference to the united states that has pulled back into that supportive role but does have the grountd attack planes, including the a-10 tank buster. what we're seeing, the argument really goes, the only way to protect civilians in this country to protect the civilians in misrata so to remove gadhafi all together. >> most people have the general sense that libya has stalemated. there's a little back and forth that reached a violent ee qui equilibri equilibrium. how is the balance of force betweened gadhafi forces and the rebels? >> we were out close to the front line today, which right now is between the oil town of brega. what we saw was interesting and lends itself to the argument that perhaps the stalemate could end. first of all, nato has been conducting a series of successful air strikes in the
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region and intensified effort for sure. what we saw on the ground today was better organization. the troops really are being led by a core group of former military officers. these are officers that defected from gadhafi's army when the uprising began here. they say they are going to get better weapons, although they don't say where they are coming from. what we saw on the ground, they were attacked while we were there. instead of turning and running, they actually stayed put and fought back and maintained their line. if the air strikes continue and they continue with this kind of success, you could actually see some movement. i think where the more prominent stalemate is in the idea we could have some sort of political solution. you have gadhafi who refuses to go and the rebels shown earlier in the week who refu to negotiate with any kind of plan that allows him to stay in power. >> stefanie gosk, thanks so much.
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live from benghazi. appreciate it. a line between authentic and fake is getting blurrier and blurrery, it happens every day, but until now, the united states government has avoided it. well, until now. i'm not talking about a certain reality tv host turned birther republican hopeful. please stand by. in this. one day, i'll park this in a spot reserved for me. it's got 26,000 miles on it now, but i'm gonna take it to a thousand million. [ male announcer ] own a certified pre-owned mercedes-benz and chances are they'll own it one day, too. now with an optional extended limited warranty your vehicle may be covered for up to 135,000 miles. one day, i'm gonna drive this to vegas. [ male announcer ] hurry in to your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for 1.99% financing during our certified pre-owned sales event through may 2nd. during our certified pre-owned how are you getting to a happier place? running there? dancing there? how about eating soup to get there? campbell's soups fill you with good nutrition, farm-grown ingredients, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do.
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there is nothing like the real thing but the real thing can be tremendously inconvenient and expensive to achieve. the egyptian pyramids are 5800 miles and thousands of dollars in washington. if you wants to see the real eiffel tower, you're way better off knowing how to speak french left the locals give you the stink eye. there's practically no way to experience ancient rome anymore unless you live in the united states of america, decades we have shown the world that replicas of anything are more convenient and better air conditioned than the real thing. this i america, we don't make the real thing. we make the real thing better. i speak about las vegas, nevada, usa, on one street you can find yourself space to space with the sphinx or staring up at the
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eiffel tower. our country's rap i had descent into commercial could be and reality tv hosts are not to be the front-runners for the presidential nominations. that's how we roll nowadays. the government has never crossed the line and chosen fake culture over real culture. tethenid atoal seic e statue of liberty, the gate way to the promise land, et cetera, this is the statue of liberty in real life, 125 years old this year, it is awesome and authentic. notice any differences? they exist i assure you but mainly out of the frame, the lady liberty on the samp is not a picture of our national treasure. it's a picture of a national treasure taken across the street from the fake medieval casino in
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las vegas nevada that's the one. the post office issued a stamp with that statue of liberty on it. a stamp collector contacted a magazine we know the usps bought the wrong picture from a photo service. it is not the statue of liberty. you have to take a ferry boat too. the postal service recognizes the error but they're sticking with the stamp no pun intended i guess because what is the difference? fake or not it's america. in fact with an economy basedou to be made that vegas baby is as good a stand in for our weary republic at the moment as any. for their part the folks who own the new york new york hotel and casino in las vegas aren't so sure the whole thing is a mistake. quote, don't discount the genius of the u.s. post office. everyone thought they were honoring just one great american institution when in reality they were honoring two. the statue of liberty and las
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we mentioned at the top of the show today is tax day at least in tradition if not this year in fact. one of the most little noticed provisions in the budget deal just passed in the house this week was an agreement that the internal revenue service would receive no additional funds to hire new agents. this in spite of the fact that the government accountability office estimates there is a total of $330 billion in unpaid federal taxes outstanding at this very moment. it's a lot of money. in case you don't have a calculator handy it is nine
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times the amount of money saved in the latest budget deal. now, it's fairly politically easy to cut money for the irs because who likes tax collectors? since the time of jesus telling people you're a tax collector has not exactly been the best opening line when making conversation at a cocktail party. did they have cocktail parties in biblical times? i don't know but i digress. of course without tax collectors there are no taxes. without taxes, there is no civilization. so in this sense the people who process those forms that we have or are about to mail in are all atlases. they hold all of this up. they are in their quiet, anonymous way kinds of heroes. and it is their quiet heroism that is the theme of a very much anticipated novel that is released today. that book is "the pale king" about a group of irs agents in peoria, illinois in 1985 and also the final unfinished novel written by the late genius david
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foster wallace author of two previous novels and several collections of essays and stories wallace was considered by many, your host included, as the greatest writer of his generation. he killed himself on september 12th, 2008, after a life long struggle with depression. at the time he was working on a a novel, one near but not at completion. in the wake of his death his edit editor was left to take the copious pages left in the study, some printed and neatly stacked, others on pads and somehow wrestle them into the form of a novel, the one published today. joining us now is michael peach the executive vice president and president of the company. it is my great pleasure. thank you so much for joining us. >> it is my great pleasure. >> can you tell us, the process seems tremendously difficult and daunting, the combination of just the sort of emotional grief
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of reconciling yourself to wallace's death and then to take all of these pages and somehow make a novel out of it. how did you go about doing it? how long did it take? >> the challenge was like no challenge i've ever had. as you said, i was still in a state of grief when i first encountered these pages that david had left behind, but then paradoxically i found myself in his presence. the first chapter that i read was a chapter narrated by a character named david foster wallace whose characteristics were very much like david's own. so i felt as though he were there and i began to experience this world that he had created, this massive, comically brilliant, challenging world that he had been working on for a decade. my task was to take this manuscript, which was close to 3,000 pages of various materials, a lot of it very -- multiple drafts of the same
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chapters, and find the story he had been attempting to write, that he had been writing and then try to find the most coherent and most complete novel inside there that i could find. and what i found i was awe struck by. it's a brilliant, massive world full of deep questions and challenges pertinent to our lives every day. >> one of the themes in the book and i have to say up front i don't want to pretend like i read the book because i'm so much looking forward to it i've been putting it off so it's this thing that is out there. i've been obsessively reading the reviews. one of the main themes is the kind of boredom these irs agents have to deal with and tackle day in and day out which i think he calls a kind of heroism at one point in the book. what do you think attracted him to this topic? >> i believe that what david wallace wanted to do in writing this novel was try to write a novel that really looked deeply into
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meanings that touch everyone and what he looked at was the extraordinary complexity of every day life when this age -- he saet the book in the past bu it could be the present moment because we're all bombarded with these complex and sometimes tedious matters and that is what life is made up of and i think he was trying to work in this novel on how we fight through all of that to get in anything that really matters including connecting to other human beings or finding love or finding the meaning of your life. you have to fight your way through boredom, teed ydium the these irs agents have to deal with the numbing work of looking at numbers from other peoples lives every day of of their life. >> he did a lot of preparation for this and way far back,juofh doing? i know he was corresponding, right, with accountants and

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